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PRESENTS THE 100 NINJA POEMS

BY ANTONY CUMMINS & YOSHIE MINAMI

WWW.NATORI.CO.UK

YOSHIMORI HYAKUSHU YOSHIMORIS 100 POEMS OR THE 100 SHIOBI-UTA OR NINKA POEMS
The Yoshimori Hyakushu is a collection of 100 short Japanese Waka poems that are dedicated to conserving instructional statements that teach and instruct on various elements of ninjutsu. They are positioned and collected into block groups which appear to have similar themes and are attributed to the famous 12th century warrior and possible shinobi, Ise no Saburo Yoshimori . However, there is no documented evidence for this and the first recorded account of these 100 poems occurs in a manuscript written in 1612 by Ogasawara Sakuun Katsuzo which was printed 4 times during an 11 year period between 1653 to 1664 and titled: Gunpo Jiyoshu, which translates as The Collected Way of the Samurai Military Arts and is translated here in this book. A short selection of these 100 poems then reappear in the 1676 ninjutsu manuscript The Bansenshukai , written by Fujibayashi Yasutake . In this ninja document the poems are renamed the Shinobi-uta (or Ninka) which translates directly as 'ninja poems'. Some of the poems in this latter document were edited and changed from the original text to some extent but have only slight differences in most cases, with the exception of one poem having a reversal in meaning. A Waka or Tanka poem is a style of classical Japanese verse, consisting of syllable units of the pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Collections of this form have been complied

since ancient times and it constitutes a large genre of Japanese literature. Because of their rhythmic ease people would not only use this form of poetry for literary value but also they used them to teach or learn a set of skills, thus, professions, arts and other elements could be passed down the generations. The supposed 12th century author, Ise no Saburo Yoshimoris origin is not known exactly, however, in the Tale of the Heike (1219-1243) he was a bandit in the Suzuka Mountains of Ise province. There are several theories and legends surrounding his origins, however, there is very little fact. One theory says he came from Iga, the home of the ninja. However, his most popular legend tells of how, he met and attacked Minamoto no Yoshitsune in the mountains but was defeated by him and became a disciple, thus Yoshimori became one of the four great retainers of Yoshitsune. The triumphant, Yoshitsune is one of the most popular heroes in Japans history. He was one of two sons of one of the most important samurai clans at the time, the Genji clan along with his elder brother Minamoto no Yoritomo the founder of Kamakura Shogunage. Yoshitsune is well known for his splendid and unexpected tactics and Yoshimori, the proposed author of the 100 poems, is also said to have had a unique way of fighting and had been a highly skilled guerrilla tactician. In the ninja manual, the Bansenshukai of 1676, Yoshimori is listed as one of 7 generals who use the arts of the shinobi and it is recorded that he was the author of the 100 ninja poems. Even though these poems are a section of the Gunpo Jiyoshu manual of 1612, which is one of the three main documents in this book, they have been given their own chapter as the Gunpo Jiyoshu was a collection of wartime experiences and lessons written by Ogasawara Sakuun, whereas these poems are attributed to another writer of an early time. Thus, here they form a separate chapter external to the Gunpo Jiyoshu where their meanings can be discussed and examined. Furthermore, the discussion of the age of these poems shows us that they are probably not attributable to the 12th century hero, however, they are older than the 1612 document that they were recorded in. That gives us a window of somewhere between the 12th and 16th century as their point of origin. Therefore, they are the oldest collection of written ninjutsu information in the world.

The full 100 ninja poems are available in English on Amazon, March 2011.

Permission is given to distribute and copy the above information.

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